Tuesday March 6, 2012

Affin’s H2 China target

It aims to offer Islamic banking there with Hong Kong’s BEA

KUALA LUMPUR: Affin Holdings Bhd expects its plan to set up Islamic banking operations in China to materialise in the second half of this year.

Deputy chairman Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin said Affin Holdings would collaborate with its shareholder, Hong Kong-based Bank of East Asia Ltd (BEA), to offer Islamic banking products in China.

BEA, which holds some 23% of Affin Holdings, is the biggest foreign bank in China.

Lodin: ‘We are revisiting the Bank Ina proposal.’

“We hope to make a breakthrough this year. It takes a bit of time but Insyaallah (God willing), by middle or end of this year, it will materialise,” he told Bernama in an interview.

He said Affin was currently looking at various opportunities to set up some form of Islamic banking operations in China and it would be under the brand name of “Affin Bank”. “It could be in the form of branches ... we have not finalised on the structure of the operations,” he said.

According to him, Affin wanted to further strengthen and tighten its relationship with BEA by not only working with the latter in Malaysia but also in China. He said there was room for expansion for Affin Islamic, which had been growing steadily. Affin Islamic is a wholly-owned unit of Affin Bank, which in turn is 100%-owned by Affin Holdings.

Lodin also said that Affin Bank was revisiting its plan to acquire an 80% stake in Indonesia's PT Bank Ina Perdana.

”We did announce that we wanted to acquire Bank Ina about one and a half years ago. However, we have to put this plan on hold because of a report, which stated that the central bank of Indonesia is considering to cap foreign ownership in its banks to less than 50%. Now that this will not happen, we are revisiting the Bank Ina proposal,” he said. Bank Ina, a conventional bank, has 20 branches in Indonesia and Affin's plan is to convert it into an Islamic bank.

“Indonesia is a good market as Muslims make up 90% of its population of between 200 million and 300 million,” he said.

On the local front, Lodin said Affin Bank was looking at a few options to expand its Islamic finance business, either organically or inorganically.

”We are looking at various options to grow our Islamic banking business which includes possible merger. If there is an opportunity for us to grow by merger and acquisition, why not?” he added. - Bernama

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